Couture: Man on a mission

DANIEL NUGENT-BOWMAN, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

Logan Couture is tired of flying under the radar.

When Couture recorded an assist in the final Team Canada intrasquad game during the world junior development summer camp, it capped off a week he figured would get him noticed going forward.

When he racked up 26 points through the first two months of the season, averaging more than two points per game, the Ottawa 67's captain thought a nomination to the selection camp roster for the tournament was a good bet.

But when the tryout rosters were decided on Dec. 3, the centre was left out. He would not get a chance to play for his country in front of his home fans.

"It was tough, it was something that I worked hard for," says Couture. "I went into the summer camp and thought I had a good camp. The scouts told me I looked good and did well. I guess it's a decision that they made, there's nothing that I can do to go back and change it."

Instead, Couture went forward full steam ahead. Following his omission from the selection camp, Couture revved up his game as the 67's began their charge toward the playoffs.

"I can imagine he was pretty upset and down on himself," says 67's defenceman Tyler Cuma, who injured his knee at Canada's selection camp and wasn't available for the tournament. "Anybody who would maybe have that chance then not get the opportunity would feel that way. I think since then, he's really picked up his game even more so. It maybe gave him that little extra boost."

Coach Brian Kilrea noticed the boost in Couture's play.

"In his first game (after the players left for camp), he was first star," says Kilrea. "The game after they picked the team, he was the best player on the ice. He's dealt with it just like he's dealt with everything else: Go out and work hard because some things you can't control."

Couture knows there is a lot he can't control in his hockey career.

Prior to the 2005 OHL draft, the Oshawa Generals had heavily courted Couture and were prepared to select him first overall. Then the league granted phenom John Tavares special player status, allowing him to enter the league a year early. The Generals took Tavares and before he knew it, Couture had slid down to the 12th spot, where he was taken by Ottawa.

With the slights in his rear-view mirror, Couture wants to focus on what he can control -- his on-ice play.

Ottawa is sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference and looking to get past the first round for the first time since Couture arrived on the scene, something the San Jose Sharks' first-round pick in 2007 feels confident will happen.

"The year I came was the year after they went to the Memorial Cup, but I've heard about how crazy it gets here when they get that deep into the playoffs," he says. "The sky's really the limit for this team. We've got a couple of tough teams in our conference in Belleville and Brampton that we're going to have to beat. I think we can do it."

If the 67's are to make a playoff run, Couture will have to play a pivotal role.

"I think we have a good team," says Kilrea. "You don't want to put all the pressure on Logan Couture, but there's no doubt that he's our leader. If you get into a situation in the playoffs, he's the one guy you look for to do the little things that'll make the difference."

The 67's host the Sudbury Wolves today at 2 p.m.


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